CDC: C. Difficile-Related Deaths Increased 400% From 2000-2007

A Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlights the growing incidence of C. difficile infections and how healthcare providers and patients can combat these infections.

The CDC reports C. difficile infections are at an all-time high, as deaths related to C. difficile increased 400 percent between 2000 and 2007, due in part to a stronger germ strain. The report also showed approximately 25 percent of C. difficile infections first show symptoms in hospital patients, while 75 percent first show in nursing home patients or in people recently cared for in physicians' offices and clinics.

The report also outlines steps healthcare administrators and caregivers can take to prevent this type of infection:


For clinicians:

1. Prescribe and use antibiotics carefully. About 50 percent of all antibiotics given are not needed, unnecessarily raising the risk of C. difficile infections.
2. Test for C. difficile when patients have diarrhea while on antibiotics or within several months of taking them.
3. Isolate patients with C. difficile immediately.
4. Wear gloves and gowns when treating patients with C. difficile, even during short visits. Hand sanitizer does not kill C. difficile, and hand washing may not be sufficient.
5. Clean room surfaces with bleach or another EPA-approved, spore-killing disinfectant after a patient with C. difficile has been treated there.
6. When a patient transfers, notify the new facility if the patient has a C. difficile infection.

For administrators:

1. Support better testing, tracking, and reporting of infections and prevention efforts.
2. Make sure cleaning staff follows CDC recommendations, using an EPA-approved, spore-killing disinfectant in rooms where C. difficile patients are treated.
3. Notify other healthcare facilities about infectious diseases when patients transfer, especially between hospitals and nursing homes.
4. Participate in a regional C. difficile prevention effort.

Related Articles on Infections:

Study: Central-Line Infections Reduced With Frequent Communication, Reeducation

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Kansas Hospitals Reduce Bloodstream Infections by 38%

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